LIV Golf's Talor Gooch Will Play PGA Championship Thanks to Special Exemption

Gooch has become one of LIV's more vocal critics of major-championship qualification criteria, but he'll have a tee time in Valhalla in two week.
Apr 7, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Talor Gooch of Smash GC walks onto the seventh green during the
Apr 7, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Talor Gooch of Smash GC walks onto the seventh green during the / Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Last week Talor Gooch said he would not attempt to qualify for either the U.S. Open or British Open. But Monday Gooch learned he'll play at least one major this year: the PGA Championship, thanks to a special exemption.

 The PGA had yet to confirm the news to SI but Gooch shared it via his social media account.

The year’s second major championship typically has numerous exemptions to give and often fills out its field by inviting those who are among the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking and not otherwise exempt.

But it has discretion to give spots to anyone it deems deserving, and Gooch—who was the No .1 player in the LIV Golf League standings in 2023—was given a spot in the tournament where he missed the cut a year ago.

Also given an exemption was LIV’s David Puig, a Spaniard who has played on LIV for a majority of the past two years. He has also won twice in the past year on the Asian Tour.

In his last 10 worldwide events outside of LIV Golf, Puig has nothing worse than a 15th-place finish, with six top-5s and two victories. He is 106th in the OWGR.

Gooch has become somewhat of a controversial figure in the game because last year the USGA changed its exemption criteria for the 2023 U.S. Open by tweaking wording that would have otherwise seen him exempt for the tournament at Los Angeles Country Club. He elected not to attempt to qualify, then missed the cut at the British Open.

None of the major championships give direct spots to the LIV Golf League, something the circuit has been seeking but which major-championship officials have pushed back against due to LIV Golf’s closed structure.

The PGA is expected to announce all of its exemptions and its full field soon.


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Bob Harig

BOB HARIG

Bob Harig is a senior golf writer for Sports Illustrated. He has more than 25 years experience covering golf, including 15 at ESPN. Bob is a regular guest on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio and has written two books, DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods and Tiger and Phil: Golf's Most Fascinating Rivalry. He graduated from Indiana University where he earned an Evans Scholarship, named in honor of the great amateur golfer Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. Bob, a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America, lives in Clearwater, Florida.